OLD SOCK? I mean: OLD SOCK! WTF? I suppose one could develop a certain affection for an old sock, as long as it was still a pair of old socks, but only if it didn’t have any holes, and only the sort of affection one feels for that which is comfortably familiar.
So why would EC call his latest Old Sock? Perhaps he’s trying to cultivate the image of an old codger with nothing much to prove, and hopes therefore to deflect any criticism for what is a pretty spectacularly ordinary record. The cover certainly plays along with that idea: the decidedly amateur photos make him look like a homeless bozo.
The music is even worse than the album’s title or its photographs. It’s a covers album, of sorts – old sock as in something that covers you? – and on the first couple of tracks, at least, the artists covered haul their asses out of limbo to accompany the guitar god. These are, respectively, Taj Mahal and JJ Cale. Unfortunately, Oscar Hammerstein, Jerome Kern, Peter Tosh, Gerald Marks, Gary Moore, Otis Redding, George Gershwin and others are rather too dead to make even a brief guest appearance, but Clapton has a go at noodling through their songs anyway.
If Paul McCartney’s dire attempt at a smoochy covers album begged belief, we get to cringe all over again on that hoary old standard ‘All Of Me’ on which McCartney is dragged out to plonk a double bass and, uh, sing. There are a few other celebrity guests like Chaka Khan, Steve Winwood, and a large studio cast including famous session musos Willie Weeks and Steve Gadd. And they float through 12 performances that barely assert their right to exist, and on which ‘God’ fails to remember to play even one decent guitar lick.
Every now and then an old bastard (that is, someone around my age or older) comes up to me and groans away about how there’s no good music these days, and you just know that the only albums they ever buy are by guys like Clapton; guys who were really good in the ‘60s, but have been coasting along for so many years now that it’s hard to remember the last time they made a truly great album. Old Sock puts a new spin on the word ‘coast’, and I can’t think of even one half-good reason to shell out to support the steep decline represented here. He hardly needs our hard-earned. GARY STEEL
Sound = 3/5
Music = 1/5